Home Ownership Among Young People Declining

More Young People Are Dealing with High Unemployment & Choosing to Move Back in With Parents

Fewer Young People Are Buying Homes

I rent a charming apartment in a seaside town in Massachusetts for a reasonable price. "Charming," of course, is long-cherished real estate code for "small," and "reasonable," in this market, is not a modest sum. If I bought, I could probably get more space for my money (not to mention equity), but I lack the sterling credit and sizeable down payment that are essential to getting a mortgage these days. 

And so I find myself the apartment-dwelling epitome of an inauspicious trend: the marked decline in homeownership among young adults. 

Nationally, the number of homes occupied by owners edged up about 1 percent between 2005 and 2010, according to numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The number of units occupied by owners under 35, however, dropped 16 percent over the same period. In California the number fell 25 percent, in Florida 28 percent. 

The obvious question, of course, is why young people are opting out of the real estate market at rates so much higher than everyone else. The answer involves both economics and emotion.